Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rodgers optimistic despite defeat

Despite dropping the final of the International Champions Cup on Monday night, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said he was happy with how the preseason tournament prepared his side for the Premier League.

Manchester United prevailed in the end but struggled to contain Raheem Sterling in the first half. The 19-year-old winger beat Phil Jones and drew a penalty that Steven Gerrard slotted home for a 1-0 lead, and Rodgers thought Liverpool deserved another penalty when Ander Herrera pulled down Sterling in the box, only for top American referee Mark Geiger to wave play on.

"I thought it was a really good game and both teams have had a very good workout out here," Rodgers said in his post-match news conference.

"I thought we were well worth the lead and had a couple more chances to increase that and it looked like maybe we should have had another penalty."

United took the lead with two quick strikes after the break and closed out the 3-1 win with a late Jesse Lingard strike, but Rodgers chose to concentrate on the positives.

"We conceded a disappointing equaliser and then very quickly conceded another one so the game started to get stretched a bit, but overall I'm delighted with the whole tournament and what it's done for us," he said.

"We have worked very hard and we will leave here with plenty of positives and look forward to the new season."

Rodgers also raved about Sterling's performance over the course of 90 minutes.

"I thought he was outstanding and was a real threat," the manager said. "Raheem is tactically aware for such a young player and is so exciting to watch. When he runs at defenders he creates many opportunities.

"At 19 years of age he is a real talent and is getting better all the time."

Liverpool's 16-day tour of America came with a cost, as Adam Lallana, Jon Flanagan, Daniel Agger, Fabio Borini and Daniel Sturridge all suffered injuries and returned home. But Rodgers said most of them should be ready to face Southampton when the Premier League kicks off on Aug. 16.

"The condition of the players that we have at the moment is very good," Rodgers said. "We've obviously got a few missing but certainly by Southampton we will be ready and we are looking forward to it."

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